Page 8 - Texas811 Magazine 2021 Issue 4
P. 8

of Communication
Webster’s Compact Dictionary defines the verb communicate as; 1: make known 2: exchange information and/or opinions.
Man has been communicating in one form or another for centuries. From the use of pictographs, symbols, letters and even the first alphabet system, to communicate with one another is an essential part of life.
Well known advertising executive, Nat Turner says, “Good communication
is the bridge between confusion and clarity”, and in the locate/construction industry this is an absolute truth.
The use of proper and effective communication is what makes the Contractor/Locate Tech relationship one of critical importance.
Prior to the implementation of the One-Call system, contractors simply started digging with no forethought as to what lay in wait below the surface of the earth. Even after the system was up and running, digging instructions were few and far between as well as not very clear. With the computerization of the 811 system, scope of work directions can be more concise and to the point allowing the locate companies to mark all utilities in the area.
With the shear footage of gas lines, telecommunication lines, as well
as many other utilities sharing “underground space”, and the
potential for major damages, effective communication is critical. And this line of communication starts with the contractor call to the 811 operator or through the use of the Texas811 internet portal.
For the contractors, your initial “scope of work” instructions literally set the stage for how the locate will go. If
your scope of work instructions is
vague or unclear, the area you actually need located may not get located. If
you are using a series of GPS points, please understand that not too many locate companies and their technicians use GPS, partly because they are not always correct or because they may not have access to equipment with those capabilities. So, always try to give street or road names and numbers when possible.
No matter what type of locate request you make, whether a single address, an extended stretch of roadway work, or a project that will be ongoing for several months, they all share the common need of good and effective communication.
This line of communication is one
that both the contractor and the locate company need to establish and maintain through-out the life of the locate request in order to achieve successful completion of the job. Without it, there are endless possibilities for disaster.
If you are the person making the call, make sure that you give the 811 operator a valid phone number that is actually
in service and used by you, as well
as a valid email address. From the locator side of the communication, I
can tell you from personal experience
of the frustration that arises when we cannot reach the requestor if there are issues with the scope of work, or the facilities cannot be located. Any of these challenges experienced by the locator will hinder your locate request being completed on time.
If you are the locate technician, do
not be afraid to call the requester if you have questions, this simple act
of calling can go a long way towards helping you complete the locate. When both parties work to create an effective line of communication, the benefits
far outweigh poor or non-existent communication.
When the communication chain is working at its best, all parties involved in the locate process have a true understanding of what is expected, and this is what ultimately lowers the number of unexpected damages, “No Response” tickets, and goes a long way to keep tempers in check.
To learn more about the locate process and meet the professionals that provide this service, come to a Damage Prevention Council of Texas chapter meeting near you. For more information,
By Keith Mumaw
McKinney Field Supervisor, Heath Consultants President, DPC of Texas Northeast Texas Chapter
6 • Texas811 2021, Issue 4

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